MARATHON -- The City Council decided last week to hold a special meeting to discuss a five-year capital plan, which could include the construction of a new City Hall and public works building.
Residents are encouraged to attend the Thursday, Jan. 17, meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. at the Marathon Fire Station.
"We need as much input as possible," Mayor Mike Cinque said. "It's our town, it's your town, and we want to do this right."
The council currently spends $57,000 a year to lease trailers that serve as its administrative offices on a city-owned lot between 98th and 99th streets. The town has draft plans for a 12,500-square-foot permanent City Hall, with council chambers, offices, community rooms and deck space. The estimated cost of the new hall is $5 million.
During last week's council meeting, members voted unanimously in favor of a new ordinance that allows residents to keep domesticated pigs as pets. Owners of pigs will be required to buy an annual license and tags, in addition to getting the appropriate vaccinations for their pets. Pigs now fall under the same ordinance as dogs and cats, and owners are required to leash them in public.
The council also discussed a possible change of use or occupancy at a city-owned property located at 2130 Sombrero Beach Road that was originally intended to assist the sheriff's Marathon-based department by providing low-cost housing to officers. The three-bedroom home was originally made available for a new officer and family at $500 a month, plus utilities, to help them become established in the community.
According to City Manager Roger Hernstadt, the original lease expired in 2003 and tenancy has continued there on a month-to-month basis for the past nine years. The current tenant has occupied the home for more than 10 years and has never seen a rate increase.
Hernstadt asked the council to revisit the city's original plan for this property and consider giving the current tenant notice to vacate.
"We need to see if this is the best use of city property," Councilwoman Ginger Snead agreed.
Vice Mayor Richard Keating suggested the city establish a timeline requiring a review of the lease and change of occupancy every couple of years to give fair opportunity to upcoming officers. Cinque agreed.
Also during last week's meeting, Snead reported she continues to receive calls from residents about nonworking street lights along U.S. 1. She said some reported several blocks of outages.
"I don't think that's what the mayor had in mind when he said we could turn off some of the lights along Route 1," Snead said.
Public Works Manager Carlos Solis said if the problem continues, the city would have to look into repairing or replacing faulty circuit breakers.
"If you see more than two lights in a row out, there's a problem," Cinque said.
In response to a recent request from County Commissioner George Neugent, Hernstadt and Cinque were nominated to serve as the city's liaisons to the BP Restore Act Committee. In mid-November, Neugent advised the city of the likelihood of it receiving funds from penalties paid by BP as a result of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf.
Funds can be used for a wide range of projects but the commissioner specifically sought the council's support for restoring the old Seven Mile Bridge.